& Castle Square URC
Minister: Rev. Dr Phil Wall
Tel: 01443 300345 Mob: 07855090360
Admin email: firstname.lastname@example.org
21st March 2021
It is now officially Spring! It’s Census Day and it is also the anniversary of our first joint weekly newsletter which opened with these words:
Welcome to the first weekly bulletin which is compiled to keep everyone in touch during these strange times as we cope with
the restrictions which have been imposed for our safety. Our Churches will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
As you will see in this newsletter, we will have two live services over Easter. Who knows perhaps we will celebrate Pentecost (the birth of the Church) with another one!
Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent as we continue our Lenten studies with Phil leading us. Today we are looking at Exodus 20:1-19. Among the questions today are:
- Which of the ten commandments do you find easier/harder to obey?
- What role do you think the 10 commandments – or the following ones (see the next chapter!) – have in the lives of Christians today?
- If you could add one Commandment to the traditional ten, what would it be?
Church Family and Pastoral News
We include this in the news sheet to inform our prayers.
- We heard this week that Cristian and the family have moved to Canterbury, where Denisa’s sister lives, and where they have both been offered work. This is a good move for them and we wish them all the best.
- We continue to hold those we know who are unwell in our prayers, along with those who care for them.
- Alison was hoping to visit her Mum, but unfortunately the visit has had to be postponed.
- We think of people who are struggling with new medication and its side effects.
Stephanie and Alan are thrilled to share the news that their Granddaughter has been accepted as a trainee Detective Constable and will be based in Bridgend. ALSO, Alan has had a good report from the hospital.
Elsie has also been told that she will not have any further appointments at the hospital.
On Monday the phased re-opening of non-essential retail – restrictions on the sale of items will be lifted for shops, which are currently open,
and Garden centres will re-open.
Birthdays this week
People with birthdays this week are: Aisha Naamani on Thursday 25th, Kath Couchman – Friday 26th and Barbara Inson in Saturday 27th, we hope you all have a good day! There may be others who have birthdays but do not feel able to celebrate.
On Monday night some of us enjoyed an excellent discussion on the Church and the younger generations, led Revd Sam Sheehan, a URC university chaplain and minister for young adults, and Ryan McMahon, an Anglican podcaster and theology student. If you couldn’t join us live, you can catch up with things on YouTube or our website.
Lent Book Group
Today, at 5pm, we will continue our discussion of our Lent book ‘Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr.
Next week we will be thinking about Exodus, chapter 40, verses 16-38. They describe the preparation of the ‘tabernacle’ or ‘tent’ for the presence of God among his people. When the Israelites settled in Canaan, the sacred Tent was replaced by the Temple. The Bible says many things about the Temple, and sometimes develops the idea of a temple in different ways. Try to list all the Bible references to ‘temple’ you can think of – including of course the obvious one for Palm Sunday! We will share this in our groups, and then think of these questions:
“The Gospel was able to accept that life is tragic but then graciously added that we can survive and perhaps even grow from this tragedy…Life is both loss and renewal, chaos and healing, death and resurrection.”
Phil opened the reflection with these words and went on to say ~
This afternoon, as I conduct yet another funeral, I’ll be affirming this belief. ‘There is a time to weep and a time to laugh’, as the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it. True words, though I’ve found that often the time to weep and the time to laugh can be as one. In the funerals I’ve conducted this past year, as memories of good times have been shared in the services, loved ones have shed tears and shared laughter. We know that it’s not uncommon, in the midst of tragedy or grief, to share a joke. I’ve had more jokes and memes sent to me over the last year than ever before.
Funeral directors and NHS workers are famed for their very necessary humour. And far from being insensitive or cold, it’s the most human thing to do…for, when our heads and hearts are overwhelmed and we struggle to process what’s going on around us, to connect with someone with humour, grounds us in our relationships and in our very humanity. We saw that played out on Friday as Comic Relief took some of us on an emotional rollercoaster of laughter and lament and it’s something that the Church has, in it’s past, been rather good at.
Last Sunday we celebrated Mothering Sunday, the Sunday that marks the middle of the season of Lent – a time in the church, associated with repentance, fasting and solemnity. And yet, in acknowledgement of the need for laughter and light in the midst of darkness, the middle Sunday of Lent has long been a day on which fasts were replaced with feasts, severe restrictions relaxed and laughter could be heard in church. Even today, some churches resurrect Laetare Sunday – laetēre being the Latin word for rejoice – or even call it Laughter Sunday in which ministers are actively encouraged to burst Lent’s austere bubble and inject some holy humour into the church. So…here goes…
Who played the first tennis match in the Bible?
Joseph…when he served in Pharaoh’s court.
Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
Samson. He brought the house down.
No? Maybe you’re a bit more New Testament humour…okay…
Q. How do we know Peter was a rich fisherman?
A. By his net income.
Everyone’s a critic, eh?! Well perhaps you can do better!
The Swiss theologian Karl Barth, not generally known for his wit, once remarked that ‘laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God’. Let’s be gracious with one another this coming week as we continue sending round our jokes, memes, TikTok videos and other things I don’t quite understand, connecting with one another through humour and love.
If you have a particular favourite Biblical joke you’d like to share, feel free to send it to Marcia. But in either case, may we all go well and have a gracious and giggly, blessed and blooming hilarious week.
Something to make you smile
After listening restlessly to a long and tedious sermon, a six-year-old boy asked his father what the preacher did the rest of the week “Oh, he’s a very busy man,” the father replied. “He takes care of church business, visits the sick, ministers to the poor…and then he has to have time to rest up. Talking in public isn’t an easy job, you know.” The boy thought about that, then said, “Well, listening ain’t easy, either!
To ensure that all members of our church communities feel connected, included, and loved, this Easter, from this weekend, elders will be handing out holy week packs to those not online. Huge thanks must go to Carol and Marcia for overseeing their production and to those who will deliver them. The packs include:
- A Palm Cross – to hold and pray, or display, on Palm Sunday.
- A tea-light – to remind us that God’s light always shines in the darkness.
- A quiz, recipe and colouring egg – to celebrate the vibrancy of new life.
- Some Love Hearts – to remember that God’s love for all creation is at the centre of the Easter story.
Good Friday Worship
Please make sure you have given Marcia your contribution for the Good Friday live-streamed service by the end of today (Sunday). It would be great to include a rich diversity of contributions to aid our worship on this solemn day. Could those participating please ensure Marcia has the following:
Who is involved: (Please stick to individuals/households):
One sentence description of content:
Any time restrictions for your attendance (between 12 and 3pm on 2nd April):
Any copyright issues: [streaming live, this won’t be an issue but we might need to edit some things for the recording, given copyright law].
A reminder of some suggestions:
- Classic Easter hymns and contemporary music
- Traditional sermons and prayers
- All age talks and stories
- Bible reading and poetry recitals
- Art reflections and visual parables
- Silent offerings, dramatic readings and short talks on contemporary situations of injustice
Ideally, all the contributions will be live but if you are willing take part and cannot or would rather not come to the church for any reason, please note that in your response and we’ll do our best to enable that to happen – sharing items on the screen. We obviously don’t want anyone who is prepared to participate to be excluded from doing so.
A Thought for the Week
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. Mother Teresa
ZOOM SERVICES: Log in opens at 10.30 for pre-service chat. Services will start at 10.45 or as advertised. Zoom service link – https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89461145366?pwd=S3ExNTVjdGVGdXlGVlNQc2k3eldudz09
To join by phone (call 0203 901 7895. then, when asked, type in the meeting ID – 894 6114 5366; followed – when asked – by the passcode – 8453605) Calls are charged at standard UK call rates.
Holy Week Worship 2021
Below is an outline of this year’s holy week worship. We hope that the diversity of worship offered – in both form and content will enable all of us to engage with the Easter story in some way.
All online services will be made available via our usual Sunday morning details unless otherwise stated.
May we have a blessed a holy week as, with Christ, we walk to the cross…and from the empty tomb.
5pm – A final chance to gather and discuss our Lent book ‘Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr.
Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday
From Palm Sunday, you are invited to join us twice a day as we walk the stations of the cross together using music, art, drama and prayer. [on our website and YouTube channel]
For those not online, the reflections used within the twice daily services will be printed out and accompany a gift pack containing other items that might aid your holy week worship at home. Those not receiving these packages who would like a Palm Cross to display during the week should contact their elder.
We gather together online and around our tables at home as we remember the meal that Jesus shared with his friends on the night before he was killed. [Online & printed]
Good Friday ~ 12 – 3pm
We mark Jesus’ final hours on the cross with a live-streamed ‘Service of the Hours’ – bringing together our newly installed technology with an ancient tale of human violence and divine forgiveness.
4pm – St. David’s Uniting Church. Adhering to all the relevant guidance and restrictions (which includes mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and the absence of communal singing or conversation) we will be opening the church building for a short Communion service. ease bring your own bread & wine (or equivalent).
Celtic crosses can be found across our land and come in a range of shapes and sizes. Unique and, originally, colourful, they were a marker of special places & people, and were intended to make people pause and think. We’re hoping to create some beautiful Celtic crosses of our own, to be placed outside all three of our church buildings for Easter Sunday, encouraging passers-by to pause and think today.
We will give out some prepared Celtic patterns and invite you to reflect on the story of the cross, the wonder of Welsh Christian heritage, and our love of the places and people who are special to us, by colouring in a section (or many sections!) of our Celtic crosses.
Please then get your creation to us by midday on Good Friday – either through the Gelliwastad Road letterbox, in Phil’s bench, handed to your courier, or through contacting Sue Walkling to pick it up. Together, may we make bold and beautiful cross creations!